Running GNU/Linux on a Samsung R40      2006.10.31 @ 8:01:00 PM
My brand new Packard Bell laptop only lasted for 42 days. Maybe it's just bad luck, but it died on me and won't even get to the BIOS screen. The good news is that it died on October 27, one day after the release of Ubuntu 6.10, so I decided to try it in this Samsung R40 Intel Core Duo 2 laptop.

First of all, I didn't know which version to install. I have read posts about people using the AMD64 ISO on Core Duo 2 processors, but it didn't work for me (it locks up after the boot menu). This experience brought the first question:

Version of Ubuntu needed

The installation allows you to automatically reduce the Windows partition making room for the installation, and creates a boot menu that allows you to decide which OS will be launched. It all worked as expected and I'm in my new desktop in a few minutes. Unlike Windows, the basic 700Mb installation CD, contains drivers for the latest laptops, as well as a rich Office Suite (OpenOffice), a powerful photo editor (The Gimp), and a long selection of great multimedia software.

Everything is automatically detected and installed in this Samsung R40 laptop:

- ATI Video drivers with Wide Screen and 24-bit color support
- Ethernet and wireless network cards
- Built-in modem
- Hotkeys
- USB 2.0 controllers
- Intel Core Duo 2 Processor
- Audio device
- Memory card reader
- DVD Burner

After installation, with quite a few applications launched, the system monitor shows 1% of utilization on both processors and 190Mb of RAM used (out of 1Gb).

All I needed to do after installation was to tweak the configuration a bit to adapt the hardware to my needs. Here is how to do it:

The first issue is the video configuration. This computer has a 1280x800 pixel monitor. The ATI Radeon card is automatically detected and configured during installation. The system configuration allows you to resize the screen, but this didn't work out very well for me as the screen looked a bit weird. What I wanted instead is to fix the screen resolution from the very moment the login screen appears:

Configuring video resolution

1- Launch a console and type:
sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

2- Go down and replace all lines containing:
Modes "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"

Modes "1280x800" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"

3- Save the file and close your session. Your login screen will now look with the right resolution.

Next, the touchpad. It works great, but I hate the "tapping" functionality. I believe buttons are there for a reason and I only want my touchpad to move the mouse arrow:

Disabling touchpad "tapping" action

1- Launch a console and type:
sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

2- Add the following section:
Section "InputDevice" Driver "synaptics" Identifier "touch pad" Option "ShmConfig" "on" Option "MaxTapTime" "0" Option "HorizScrollDelta" "0" EndSection

3- Add the following line within the Section "ServerLayout"

InputDevice "touch pad" "SendCoreEvents"
4- Save the file and log out. Your touchpad will behave from now on : ) 

That's basically all I did. This is definitely a GNU/Linux laptop I would recommend.

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